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Profile: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan

Former cricket star assumed his office as the 19th prime minister of Pakistan in August 2018

Anadolu Agency

Imran Khan, a former cricket hero, assumed his office as the 19th prime minister of Pakistan in August 2018, after his center-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the July general election in the country.

Khan, born in 1952 in the northeastern city of Lahore, also won the only cricket World Cup for Pakistan in 1992, which helped him to emerged as hero of the young generation of Pakistan.

The charismatic Khan has been seen as a savior by the common man in the roles of a cricketer, philanthropist and politician.

- Cricket life

Khan grew up in an upper-middle class family in Zaman Park area of Lahore and is one of the few Pakistani politicians who has an impressive educational background in addition to his top-notch cricket career.

When he started first class cricket at the age of 16, he was still a student of the prestigious Aitchison College, the alma matter of several top bureaucrats and politicians.

At the age of 18, he was sent to the Royal Grammar School High Wycombe, England and later to the Oxford University to study political science, philosophy and economics.

During his stay in England, he began playing county cricket, apart from representing Pakistan in international cricket.

He starred in five World Cups in 1975, 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992.

Khan became one of the fastest bowlers in 1976 and helped his team win scores of matches.

- Philanthropy

After retirement from cricket in 1992, he changed his lifestyle for philanthropy.

Khan set out on a journey to collect donations to establish the country's first state-of-the-art cancer hospital -- named after his mother Shaukat Khanum who had died of cancer in Lahore.

His successful mission earned him huge love and respect among Pakistanis.

- Beginning political career

Four years after receiving a warm welcome across the country on arrival after the winning of cricket World Cup in 1992, Khan joined politics and formed a political party.

He founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 1996 with promises of Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan), where dynastic politics had no role.

In the beginning he was not even considered among the top 20 politicians of the country. His party could not win even a single seat the first time it contested in 1997.

In the 2002 elections, he could win only one seat from his hometown Mianwali -- a remote district of Punjab province. His party boycotted the 2008 elections, which were held by the then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Khan’s political career took an actual flight in 2011 with a mammoth public rally in Lahore that stunned political commentators and rang alarm bells for Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, who had been ruling the most populous province Punjab for the last three decades.

In the 2013 elections, Khan appeared to have an impressive appeal to the youth, which make up 60 percent of the country's total population.

He gave a tough time to two mainstream political parties -- Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party, which have taken turns to rule the country.

His party emerged as the largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and it formed government in the province along with Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami in 2013.

In July 2018 elections, his party emerged as single largest party in the election and formed governments in the center, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces.

- Personal life

Khan married thrice, out of which two ended with a divorce.

He first married Jemima Goldsmith from England’s billionaire Goldsmith family in 1995, who bore him two sons -- Sulaiman Khan and Qasim Khan. They divorced in 2004.

Eleven years later he married a local news anchor Reham Khan in a union which could only last ten months.

Khan has tilted towards Sufism in recent years, with frequent visits to shrines and faith healers to seek blessings for his political journey.

This led him to marry faith healer Bushra Manika in 2018.

Khan’s supporters see in him a messiah, who will steer the country out of simmering predicaments by sheer determination and goodwill.

- Ties with Turkey

On August 14, 2017 before assuming the office of premier, Khan expressed support for Turkey during its financial difficulties.

"On behalf of the People of Pakistan myself, I want to let President Erdogan the people of Turkey know we are praying for their success in dealing with the severe economic challenges confronting them, as they have always succeeded against adversities in their glorious history," Khan wrote on Twitter.

During his election campaign, Khan had promised with his nation to follow in Erdogan's footsteps for bringing reforms in Pakistan.

"Pakistan and Turkey have always stood by each other, and Pakistan's new government would further strengthen its ties with Ankara," Khan said in a statement last month.

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